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Silicon Valley gets musically reviewed in ‘South of Market’

Characters include Riley, who yearns to be on the 30 Under 30 list, and sharing economy worker “Sarah, 4.9 Stars.”

Courtesy “South of Market: The Musical”

From HBO’s “Silicon Valley” to books like “Chaos Monkeys” and “Disrupted,” the world isn’t lacking for parodies and critiques of tech culture. But “South of Market,” a play that premiered this weekend in San Francisco, is putting those thoughts to music.

The initial limited run of “South of Market,” which began on Thursday and runs through Sunday in the city’s Mission District, has been advertised as the “first annual” musical comedy about tech. Producer/writer Pat Blute said half of the people in the cast are tech workers themselves.

Courtesy “South of Market: The Musical”

One of the main characters, Riley, is “29-and-three-quarters” years old, and is desperate to do something that earns him a spot on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. Another character, known only as “Sarah, 4.9 Stars,” is a sharing economy worker who wants health insurance — and also a sense of purpose.

“That 0.1 star really defines a lot of existence in the on-demand economy,” Blute said. “Uber, GrubHub, DoorDash, Caviar: You’re boiled down to your first name and a star rating. She’s figuring out what value she has beyond this name and this ranking.”

Director Christopher Goodwin, a professional actor who performs with the San Francisco musical revue “Beach Blanket Babylon,” said the show was crafted to poke fun at the industry’s failings — another character, Delia, sings about being a female tech CEO in a song called “Girl, Disrupted” — while remaining accessible to a broad audience.

“It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, it’s really about the people you meet,” Goodwin said. “You have to enjoy what you’re doing, bottom line.”

Courtesy “South of Market: The Musical”

To that end, the show’s closing number is “Believe in Yourself, but Not Too Much,” and advises techies, “Why reach for the sky when the ceiling is enough?”

For the most attentive audience members, though, Blute and Goodwin said there are little details that only people who live in the Valley will understand.

“I’ve been to a lot of VC events,” said Blute, who used to work at Dialpad and the Webb Investment Network. “And everyone wears that jacket [that has] no sleeves and is very puffy, with their company’s name on it.”

Naturally, those vests get a workout in one song, “I Want to Be Helpful,” in which a group of venture capital partners flip them inside out to reveal Broadway-friendly glitter. In another number, the cast sings about companies that have pivoted while dancers literally pivot onstage.

Blute and Goodwin aren’t sure yet where “South of Market” will go after this weekend, but they’re looking into the options.

“We can take it in a few different directions,” Blute said. “We like to think of this as our Demo Day.”

This article originally appeared on

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